Bhai Dooj is a festival celebrated in India by Hindus and the Hindu diaspora. Just like Raksha Bandhan, it is a special festival for sisters and brothers. Moreover, the celebration of this festival is the same as the Raksha Bandhan. The Bhai Dooj festival is celebrated after Diwali. The festival falls on the second lunar day of Shukla Paksha in the Vikram Samvat Hindu calendar month of Kartika. On the day of the festival, sisters give a tika on the forehead of their brothers and also give gifts to them. In Haryana, a ritual is also followed on Bhai Dooj. A dry coconut with klewa tied along its width for worshipping is also used at the time of doing aarti of a brother.
Bhai Dooj is also called Bhau Beej, Bhai Tika, and Bhai Phonta in different regions of India. Furthermore, in the southern part of the country, the day is celebrated as Yama Dwitiya. In the Kayastha community, two Bhai Doojs are celebrated. The more famous one comes on the second day after Diwali. But the lesser-known one is celebrated a day or two after Diwali.
According to a popular legend in Hindu mythology, after slaying the evil demon Narakasura, Lord Krishna visited his sister Subhadra who gave him a warm welcome with sweets and flowers. She also affectionately applied tilaka (tika) on Krishna's forehead. This legend is believed to be the origin of the Bhai Dooj festival. The name of the festival of Bhai Dooj varies from region to region.
The ceremony of Bhai Dooj signifies the duty of a brother to protect his sister as well as a sister's blessings for her brother. On the day of the festival, sisters invite their brothers for a sumptuous meal often including their favorite dishes and sweets. The procedure may be different in Bihar and central India. The traditional style ceremony of Bhai Dooj starts with sisters performing arti for their brother and applying a tika of Sindoor or Chandan on the brother's forehead. This tika ceremony on the occasion of Bhai Beej signifies the sister's sincerest prayers for the long and happy life of her brother. Then, they also treat their brothers with gifts. In return, elder brothers bless their sisters and may also treat them with gifts or cash.
As it is customary in Haryana, Maharashtra to celebrate the auspicious occasion of Bhau-beej, women who do not have a brother worship the moon Chandra instead. They apply mehendi on girls as their tradition. Furthermore, the sister whose brother lives far away from her and can not go to his house sends her sincerest prayers for the long and happy life of her brother through the moon god. She performs aarti for the moon. This is the reason why children of Hindu parents affectionately call the moon Chandamama.
Bhai Phonta is celebrated with much splendor in the state of West Bengal. The ceremony is marked with many rituals along with a grand feast arranged for the brothers. Furthermore, to celebrate the festival of Bhai Dooj, it is necessary that both brother and sister are more than 5 years of age. The festival of Bhai Beej is popular in Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm and happiness in these states. Moreover, brothers and sisters look forward to the occasion with immense enthusiasm. To add charm to the occasion, Bhai Beej gifts are given to brothers from sisters as a token of love and appreciation. Bhai Dooj is also a time for family reunions as all brothers and sisters in the family get together. Close relatives and friends are also invited to celebrate the Bhai Dooj festival in many families. Apart from this, there are some special dishes for the festival that include the Maharashtra sweet called basundi poori or kheerni poori.
Bhai Dooj is an important as well as a special festival for a brother and a sister. It is an occasion that celebrates the strong bonding between a brother and a sister. A relationship between a brother and a sister is kind of unique. They fight with each other, they care for each other, they share secrets with each other, they protect each other, and they even admire each other. And most importantly, if one is upset, then the other also gets upset and does everything to make his/ her sibling happy. It is really difficult to comprehend the relationship between a brother and a sister through just words. And, to celebrate that relationship, Bhai Dooj is celebrated.
On this special occasion, sisters invite their brothers to their place and prepare their favorite dishes. They even travel to their brothers to celebrate this day. They even treat their brothers with lovely gifts and pray for their well-being and longevity. In return, brothers promise to protect as well as care for their sisters. Thus, Bhai Dooj is the perfect festival for making the bond between a sister and a brother stronger. Furthermore, this occasion can also help in strengthening the love between a brother and a sister.